A Tribute to The Vampire Diaries’ Bonnie Bennett, A Fierce Witch Who Ought to By no means Have Been Sidelined

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It is a miracle that Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) made it by to the top of The Vampire Diaries.

By the point Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson‘s supernatural drama wrapped in 2017, she’d died twice, change into an anchor to a purgatory world for lifeless supernatural creatures, been suffering from a psychotic serial killer, survived an dependancy to darkish magic, saved her Mystic Falls buddies too many instances to rely, and watched most of her family members die proper earlier than her eyes. Regardless of these sacrifices, the fierce Bennett witch who put everybody else’s wants above her personal by no means acquired the identical respect she had so freely given to these round her. In fact, Bonnie deserved much better therapy than what she skilled all through the collection.

Bouncing between the position of supportive greatest buddy and magical city savior, Bonnie was by no means allowed to be absolutely human in the best way that Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Caroline (Candice King) have been. Her story typically took a again seat to no matter urgent troubles befell her onscreen besties, and in consequence, Bonnie did not fairly join with followers on the identical degree. Over the course of the present’s eight-season run, her presence was outlined by what she may do for everybody else moderately than who she was as an individual. And since a lot of her story was tied to her magic, we frequently neglect that Bonnie — on her personal — was fairly rattling dope.

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Good, strong-willed, and sharp-tongued, Bonnie was somebody you wished to hang around with, and never simply due to her powers. Whether or not she was relishing within the “scorching man parade” in Season 1 or joking to Enzo (Michael Malarkey) in Season 6 that he may have the ability to discover one other Phoenix Stone at Toys “R” Us, Bonnie was affable and relatable throughout these small moments when she was allowed to be human. And certain, she might be judgmental, however she had each proper to evaluate her associates, who appeared to lose their widespread sense when it got here to these all-encompassing romances. Each time Damon (Ian Somerhalder) lashed out as a result of he did not get his means, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Elena would rush to his protection — even when that meant being complicit in homicide — whereas Bonnie referred to as him out on his problematic conduct. For that, she was painted as self-righteous, and her legitimate factors went ignored till he acted up once more. Bonnie was the voice of cause every time her associates have been being unreasonable, however not often was she afforded the chance to be something greater than that.

Beginning the collection as Elena’s bubbly greatest buddy coming into her personal as a beginner witch, Bonnie shortly advanced into the magical fixer who’d strut right into a scene like Olivia Pope to utter a spell in Latin after which disappear into the background once more. A buddy became a vampire and is in want of a daylight ring? Let’s ask Bonnie. Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is stirring up hassle on the town and we have to a superb offense? Let’s name in Bonnie. She was a buddy and an ally, however as a result of she was solely referred to as in to ahead the plot by defending and serving the individuals round her, she typically fell into the trope of the “magical negro,” the smart and self-sacrificing black character whose fundamental position is to assist white protagonists get out of hassle. Bonnie could have been a core member of the group, however she by no means operated on the identical airplane as her Mystic Falls buddies and sometimes discovered herself remoted. As a black lady, I typically felt alienated by this collection I liked a lot as a result of it had so carelessly dealt with the one particular person on the present who regarded like me. And I used to be not alone in that regard.

Bonnie’s fiercest, loudest supporters have been the black ladies who have been additionally pressured to grapple with each a deep love of the collection and fixed frustration with how Bonnie had been sidelined. For these followers, there was an unstated responsibility to guard the present’s solely black lead, who’d by no means acquired the identical quantity of appreciation throughout the fandom as Caroline or Elena. And we had little to work with, each throughout the present and in popular culture as an entire. When The Vampire Dairies premiered in September 2009, it was the one style present on The CW to characteristic a black lady in its fundamental forged. So for that small group of us, who already felt like outsiders inside style fandom due to what little illustration there was, Bonnie meant the entire rattling world. And this present did her so soiled.

<p>Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder, <em>The Vampire Diaries</em> </p>

Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

Descended from a strong line of witches relationship all the best way again to the city’s early beginnings, Bonnie’s historical past was wealthy and touched each cornerstone of the collection. Her ancestor Ayana mentored Esther, the villainous Mikaelson matriarch who would go on to create the primary vampires. As Katherine’s handmaid, Emily Bennett (Bianca Lawson) created the daylight ring that allowed her to cross off as human whereas capturing Stefan and Damon’s affections. However a lot of what we learn about Bonnie’s historical past and that of her household is instructed by the context of the way it affected the opposite central characters. Her historical past was by no means her personal, and neither have been her powers.

Bonnie’s position was inconsistent all through the collection, however one widespread development struck: Each time she grew to become too highly effective, her talents have been inevitably stripped away. By Season 2, she picked up spectacular offensive strikes like pyrokinesis and the flexibility to trigger debilitating aneurysms. Bonnie had even grown robust sufficient to face as much as Klaus, the baddest vampire of all time. However she may by no means maintain on to these powers for lengthy. If the ancestors felt she was abusing them, they have been gone. Each time The Vampire Diaries wanted the unhealthy man to have the higher hand — poof! Bonnie’s powers have been incessantly taken away and given again just like the present was a father or mother disciplining a difficult little one. It was as if she could not take up an excessive amount of area on this collection already filled with a bevy of different supernatural creatures, lest she be put in her place.

And when she wasn’t shedding her powers, she was shedding family members. The sheer quantity of heartbreaking deaths Bonnie skilled through the years, which embody the deaths of her grandmother, her father, her mom (who was became a vampire), and each boyfriend she’s ever had, ought to have rendered her a dull shell. However in a city that all the time tried to decrease her spirit, Bonnie was resilient. A lot has been manufactured from Elena’s countless household tragedies, which she grappled with as a vampire when she turned off her humanity swap in Season 4. Because the city’s protector, nevertheless, Bonnie wasn’t given a lot time to take care of her personal private tragedies, which regularly got here by the hands of the supernatural associates she’d saved time and time once more. Her grief and trauma did not serve the higher goal of the story, so she was pressured to shortly transfer ahead, sacrificing a chunk of herself every time. However Bonnie was a fighter. She by no means gave up on herself or her associates even when she had each proper to.

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The perfect instance of this got here in Season 6, when Bonnie reached her lowest level whereas caught all by herself in a jail world. Her final little bit of magic was used to ship Damon house, and different makes an attempt to make it again had in the end failed. Depressed and alone, Bonnie determined that moderately than waste away, she’d finish her life as an alternative. So she took one final shot of Damon’s greatest bourbon, locked herself within the storage along with his smooth blue convertible operating, filmed a remaining message to her associates, and let the noxious fumes kick in. It was a uncommon second once we bought to see Bonnie weak and at her most human, wallowing in self-pity whereas at her wits’ finish. And she or he may have let all of it finish proper there, however she did not. Drawing from that unshakable interior power, that metaphorical black woman magic that had carried her by each tragedy, Bonnie pulled herself up and made it out of that storage alive. That speaks to the center of who Bonnie was, a sheer pressure of nature who refused to remain down irrespective of what number of instances she stumbled or faltered.

<p>Michael Malarkey and Kat Graham, <em>The Vampire Diaries</em> </p>

Michael Malarkey and Kat Graham, The Vampire Diaries

It wasn’t till Elena was pressured right into a mystical coma on the finish of Season 6 that Bonnie was lastly capable of be extra current within the story and develop as a personality. Maybe it was the present reckoning with its earlier seasons, which had taken her with no consideration, or simply filling a void left by one in every of its core forged members. However as Elena’s story began to wind down, Bonnie’s started to actually thrive. Within the present’s remaining seasons, she shaped an exquisite friendship with Damon, which was refreshing given their lengthy historical past of mutual disregard for each other. She discovered to chuckle and make jokes once more, and he or she even discovered somebody who lastly put her first.

Bonnie’s grand love story with Enzo in Season 7 got here as a shock — it was launched in a cryptic flashforward that noticed them kiss with no context offered — however we warmed up it will definitely. Amongst followers, their relationship was quickly held in the identical regard because the present’s different’s main ships, Delena and Klaroline. Whereas Bonnie’s romance with Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) all the time appeared awkward and compelled (he additionally cheated on her along with his ghost ex-girlfriend), this one simply felt proper. It was epic and tragic. And it was the primary time the present handled Bonnie as if she was as fascinating as Caroline, whose infectious persona charmed each main male character, together with Matt (Zach Roerig), Tyler (Michael Trevino), Alaric (Matthew Davis) and Klaus.

Nevertheless, Bonnie may by no means have one thing of her personal for lengthy, and he or she was quickly robbed of her fortunately ever after with Enzo by an unhinged Stefan, who tore out Enzo’s coronary heart. When it got here to Bonnie’s happiness, the present all the time took one step ahead and two steps again.

The Vampire Dairies will all the time be remembered for these insane plotlines and epic romances, and deservedly so. However we won’t neglect that these unforgettable moments have been constructed on Bonnie’s sacrifices. She is the present’s Miss Congeniality, the unsung hero who by no means acquired the credit score she was due. Her nice achievements, like saving Mystic Falls from being eviscerated by hellfire within the collection finale or simply persevering by unspeakable tragedy, typically get misplaced within the shuffle of every thing that occurred on this loopy, enjoyable present. However no matter how she was handled, I am going to all the time keep in mind Bonnie for what she was: fierce, loyal, beautiful, charming, candy, humorous, and one hell of a lady.

Here is to you, Bonnie Bennett. You deserved the entire rattling world.

<p>Kat Graham, <em>The Vampire Diaries</em> </p>

Kat Graham, The Vampire Diaries

This week, TV Information is celebrating a few of TV’s most underrated feminine characters. As a part of Girls’s Historical past Month, we’re digging into Sweet Dee’s vulgar narcissism on It’s Always Sunny, giving it up for Shadowhunters‘ feminist icon Isabelle Lightwood, and extra. You may take a look at all our Women’s History Month content here.

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